Ming Blue and White `Provincial` Porcelain :
Pieces like the present Ming Porcelain example have traditionally been referred to as `Provincial Blue and White Porcelain` because the potting and painted appear as being some what rustic. Sometimes `provincial` pieces have a great strength and freedom that can be lacking in more refined objects. Recent research in China has shown that there was little Blue and White Porcelain produced outside the main kiln complex of Jingdezhen in Jiangxi Province. The exception might be Dehua in Fujian province but the Blue and White Porcelain production from those kilns is distinct from the kilns at Jingdezhen.
Fish / Yu :
The Chinese word for fish `Yu` is pronounced in the same way as the word for abundance. So fish have come to represent prosperity and the carp is often represented as sign of success because of its perseverance, swimming up river. Pairs of fish swimming together, representing marital bliss, were common from the Southern Song (1128-1279) but it was in the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368) that fish swimming with aquatic plants became a common subject, the patterns were based on popular designs found in Southern China. Some of the earliest Chinese blue and white porcelain (c.1320-1350) depicts fish swimming with plants, frequently lotus as this represented purity. These Yuan designs were shown in the center of bowls and dishes surrounded by concentric geometric borders.It was not until the 16th century that freer, more open designs of fish swimming among sea weed and crabs were popular.
The lotus is one of the most important symbols in the Chinese art. This Buddhist emblem is a symbol of purity, as the perfect flower grows out of muddy ponds without a stain. The words for lotus in Chinese has the same meaning as to bind, connect (in marriage). It is one of the Eight Auspicious Symbols of Buddhism. It is the flower used to represent summer.
Ruyi-Head and Lingzhi Fungus Designs:
The Ruyi scepter has been an important symbol in China since at least Western Han times, its origins are still unclear, it might be Chinese but it could equally well be a Buddhist import. The Taoists believe the Ruyi evolved from the Lingzhi fungus, their symbol of immortality. Indeed the Ruyi-Head, that is the top of the scepter which curves back over the main body is often modelled as a Lingzhi fungus cloud form. Lingzhi is the immorality fungus and Ruyi means “may you have”.